Three suspects in Kitterman murder plead not guilty at arraignment

OKANOGAN – Three suspects in the murder of Michelle Kitterman of Oroville pled not guilty in the Okanogan County Jail In-Custody courtroom on Thursday, April 9.

Lacey Hirst-Pavek, 33, Tonasket, pled not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree and conspiracy to commit manslaughter in the first degree during her arraignment. Hirst-Pavek was released on $250,000 bail on Thursday, April 2. She has a jury trial date of June 30.

Brent L. Phillips, 38, Spokane, pled not guilty to first degree murder, first degree manslaughter, tampering with physical evidence and a fourth count of kidnapping, added during his arraignment. Phillips is currently in custody under $1 million bail. A jury trial was set for June 2.

Tansy Fae Arwen Mathis, 29, Spokane, entered a not guilty plea and demand for a jury trial to her charges of first degree murder, first degree manslaughter, tampering with physical evidence and a fourth count of kidnapping. Mathis is currently being held in custody under $1 million bail. She also has a jury trial date of June 2.

During her arraignment, Mathis’ attorney requested the bail be lowered but the state opposed, believing she is an extreme flight risk, has no ties to the community and was born in Bolivia, so she currently has dual-citizenship. Despite Mathis’ attorney stating that Mathis is willing to surrender both her U.S. Passport and Bolivian Passport, the judge said there is no guarantee if she flees the country that another country will extradite her and that issue alone causes an issue for the court. He also stated that Mathis’ children in the Tonasket area are not a tie to the community, since she was found in Spokane.

The fourth suspect, David Eugene Richards, 33, Spokane, made his first court appearance on Friday, April 10 where he was read the charges of first degree murder and first degree manslaughter. Richards turned himself in to the Spokane Police Department on Sunday, April 5. He is currently being held under $1 million bail and will have another arraignment on Thursday, April 16 during which he can enter his plea of guilty or not guilty.

On Sunday, March 1, the body of Kitterman was found in the driveway of 193 Stalder Road in Tonasket. According to court documents the autopsy’s preliminary results indicated the cause of death was homicidal violence and that Kitterman was about 11 weeks pregnant.

In addition, according to court documents, Kitterman was having an affair with Hirst-Pavek’s husband, Daniel Pavek and was pregnant with his child. Hirst-Pavek allegedly made comments that she wanted Kitterman “taken care of.”

Court documents further state that on Thursday, March 5, Hirst-Pavek contacted Detective Murray with the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Department to meet and talk about Kitterman. During her talk with detectives, Hirst-Pavek stated she knew who was responsible for Kitterman’s death. She admitted to knowing about the affair between Kitterman and her husband and to not liking Kitterman.

“She also admitted to calling the [North Central Washington Narcotics Task Force], Tonasket Police Department, Oroville Police Department and the Okanogan County Sheriff’s office to report [Kitterman's] drug activity hoping she would get arrested,” court documents state. “Hirst also admitted to making statements that could have been taken the wrong way. When asked to clarify, Hirst said the statements could have been taken as her wanting something done to [Kitterman]. She denied wanting anyone to hurt [Kitterman].”

However, on Tuesday, March 31, court documents state that Hirst-Pavek admitted to detectives that when she rented the 2008 Chevrolet Trail Blazer for Mathis, she “knew that Mathis was going to Spokane to get a couple of big guys to take care of Michelle Kitterman.” Hirst-Pavek was arrested on March 31.

Phillips, who was arrested on Thursday, March 26 in Seattle, sent a KITE request while in the jail requesting to speak to the detective involved in the homicide, according to court documents. While speaking with detectives, Phillips said he knows Mathis as “Kim” and he had met her a couple of times, the documents state.

“Mathis is Dave Richards’ drug dealer,” court documents state Phillips said. “Richards approached Phillips that they were going somewhere. Richards and Phillips went to Mathis’ house, which is across from an elementary school in an upstairs apartment in a house. Phillips advised that he watched TV…Richards and Mathis talked. Richards and Phillips later left the residence. Richards told Phillips that this was not about drugs. Richards told Phillips that they wanted him to take someone out. It was a chick who was snitching on people. Richards wanted Phillips to go with him to do this.”

According to court documents, Phillips later identified the “chick” as Kitterman. These documents say Mathis told Phillips to get Kitterman to go to the casino with them and that he talked Kitterman into going to the casino with them.

Court documents also state that “further investigation revealed that on March 1, in the early morning hours, Mathis and [Phillips] went to 9 Mill Drive, Tonasket, the home of Kitterman. They drove Kitterman to Stalder Road where Kitterman was beaten and stabbed and left for dead along the roadway. Mathis and [Phillips] drove to the Republic area where they burned their clothing and the instrument used to stab Kitterman and cleaned the vehicle.”

Sheriff Frank Rogers said Richards was contacted earlier in the investigation “but stated that an ice pick he owned had been stolen by Phillips and was used in the murder of Kitterman but denied any involvement. The investigation now shows that along with Mathis and Phillips, Richards was also present at the scene that night and was in fact involved in the stabbing of Kitterman with the ice pick.”

The warrant for Richards’ arrest was issued on March 31.

Rogers said no new suspects are being searched for right now and that detectives are still working and doing reports.

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